Complexions dance tour takes the audience from Bach to Bowie

From the first moment, the company won spectators over with its blasting energy, strong dance fit bodies and a spirit that states we’ll go the extra mile to win you over.

A performance of 'Star Dust.' (photo credit: SHAREN BRADFORD)
A performance of 'Star Dust.'
(photo credit: SHAREN BRADFORD)

The American dance company Complexions was established almost three decades ago by two choreographers, Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson. The company has been to Israel a couple of times before and surprised us by performing a wonderful duet, danced by the company’s renowned leading dancer Desmond Richardson and our own dancer/choreographer Ido Tadmor, an Israeli who choreographed the duet and now resides in the States.

On its current tour, the company performed two creations by Rhoden: Bach 25 and Star Dust, homage to the late superstar David Bowie. It’s not the first time that the company’s repertoire opened with a work set to classical, elitists’ music, versus most of the company’s repertoire that leans on more popular choices associated with American music, such as soul, jazz, rock & roll, etc.

From the first moment, the company won spectators over with its blasting energy, strong dance fit bodies and a spirit that states we’ll go the extra mile to win you over. And in fact, they were all in all the way. They release their major secret weapons, captivating yet rather aggressive bites of balletic attributions such as innumerable, powerful 180-degree leg kicks that scratch their ears and splits galore in mid-air and on the floor. These produced the expected wow effect on point or not, as each step on those hard point ballet shoes left a definitive exclamation mark.

Excessive use of those elements seemed a bit grating against the refined musical notes of Bach, which are more layered than being mere rhythmical notations.

The homage to David Bowie – Star Dust – has all the technical extravaganza of the earlier Bach 25 piece, yet it produced a lighter, looser ambiance. First, because it is structured in a less regimented fashion and obeys to more familiar rock musical conventions. These include song and dance, plenty of room for displaying personal interpretation of the performer’s stage character and leaves room for personal interactions that are less mechanical as they were before. 

Dwight Rhoden 88 224 (credit: Courtesy)Dwight Rhoden 88 224 (credit: Courtesy)

The colorful costumes, crazy hair styles and the wild campy makeup – shimmering silver dust lips, for instance – gave us a chance to see some improvisational vignettes, which were fun and concurrently human. This artistic choice was a blessing particularly for the impressively varied cadre of able male dancers who seemed to enjoy their masquerades and parades in a gender fluency style.

The company managed to please the audience and will probably return in the future, like many mainstream groups before, which tread on the safe, less-challenging side of art.

COMPLEXIONS Rhoden: Bach 25, Star Dust, Herzliya Performing Ats Center, June 28